Withdraw stir on humanitarian grounds: Khattar to farmers

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Chandigarh, Apr 15 (PTI) Amid a surge in COVID cases, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday appealed to farmers to withdraw their stir against the Centre’s farm laws on 'humanitarian grounds'.

His appeal came as the state government tightened restrictions on gathering at indoor and outdoor public functions to 50 and 200, respectively.

Earlier, the state government had permitted 500 people at outdoor events and 200 at indoor programmes.

Khattar said while it is the constitutional right of every person to protest and the state does not have a problem with anyone doing so in a peaceful manner, the situation due to rising COVID cases is a matter of concern.

“At this time, due to COVID-19, life may be put in danger, so this is not the right time to protest,” said Khattar while presiding over a meeting called to review the coronavirus situation, according to an official statement.

Farmers should withdraw their movement on “humanitarian grounds”, the CM said, adding that they can hold their protest once the situation improves.

He also directed the deputy commissioners to contact the agitating farmers and try to persuade them.

In the meeting, Khattar said keeping in view the increase in the number of cases, they need to reduce crowding at public functions.

“Therefore, it has been decided that from now on, not more than 200 people can gather in open spaces during public functions and not more than 50 at indoor functions. Similarly, no more than 20 people will be able to attend funerals,” Khattar said.

He directed all deputy commissioners to issue advisories to ensure that night-time ceremonies are shifted to daytime and the “Navratra” programmes be held during the day.

Health Minister Anil Vij, who attended the meeting through virtual mode, directed the DCs and district police chiefs to get the coronavirus-related guidelines strictly implemented.

“I can withstand the resentment of people by being strict but I cannot see the piles of dead bodies (people dying from coronavirus),” Vij said.

Vij further said there are only two ways to prevent the coronavirus spread. “The first method is a lockdown and the second is strictness. We want the situation to be dealt with strictness instead of imposing a lockdown in the state,” he said, adding that reporting over 5,000 cases in a day is a matter of concern.

“So, we have to create containment and micro containment zones,” he said. He also expressed concern over the “black marketing” of Remdesivir drug and said teams should be deployed to check it. Khattar said that due to increasing cases in the country and the state, they need to take precautions.

“Last year, the economic activity had stalled due to the lockdown, which took about six months to get back on track. Therefore, we have to keep in mind that the economic cycle should continue in the state and that no one is adversely affected as well,” he said.

He appealed to people to leave their homes only when necessary, wear masks, use a sanitiser and maintain social distancing.

He said there is proper arrangement of oxygen, ventilators and beds in the state. So people need not panic, he said.

He directed officials to hold all meetings online so that the movement of people could be reduced.

Khattar said as crop procurement is under way, the number of procurement centres should be increased to speed up the process.

He directed the deputy commissioners to establish procurement centres in rice mills and schools for the next 10-12 days. PTI SUN VSD RDK RDK